Jonathan Monaghan’s vibrant animated videos meld a range of sources to conjure their unsettling beauty. Borrowing from the look and feel of video games, the artist deploys historical and contemporary icons—from art history, design, and the commercial realm—in a mash-up of symbols of wealth in Western culture.
In Rainbow Narcosis, a beheaded lamb—a symbol of Christian sacrifice—serves as both the main character and the setting for the action. Much of the video takes place on the plane between the neck and head of the animal. Along the way, details of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris and a sleek, Modernist loft signify luxury and taste in two different period styles. The “narcosis” of the title refers to a drug-induced unconsciousness, implying that blind trust in the uplifting promise of consumption may produce a similar obliviousness. Through a looped format, Monaghan draws a parallel between the endless cycle of consumption and the reset-and-replay structure of video games.